Tag: Jen’s Reviews

Guest Review: Falling for Farmer Brown by Tammy Blackwell

Posted September 16, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Falling for Farmer Brown by Tammy BlackwellReviewer: Jen
Falling for Farmer Brown by Tammy Blackwell
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 4, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 278
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four-stars

Home is where the heart is...

When the death of a dear friend forces Isabella "Izzy" Moreno to return to the small town where she grew up, her main goal is to get out and back to New York as soon as possible. But bad weather and delayed funeral plans mean not only is Izzy trapped in Cupar County for an entire week, but she's forced to bunk down with her former friend Ethan Brown.

Ethan Brown can't remember the first time he fell in love with Izzy Moreno, but he knows he's in danger of doing it all over again the moment he sets eyes on her. He vows to protect his heart this time around, but it's near impossible when she's living under his roof, reminding him of all the things he turned his back on years ago.

As Izzy spends more time in Cupar County and with Ethan she begins to wonder, can you really go home again?

I’m not gonna lie: I 150% picked up this book because of the cover. It is freaking adorable and utterly perfect for the book. Thankfully, what was inside the book was well worth reading.

Isabella Moreno has come back from New York City to rural Kentucky to be with her friends after one of their group died unexpectedly. (CW: This book deals with the aftermath of their friend’s death. I was worried it would be horribly angsty, but it’s not. There are, however, some painful moments and the grief is unavoidable at some points.) Izzy has remained close to her group of friends, except for Ethan Brown. As soon as she’s back, however, they decide to rekindle their friendship. Except Ethan’s never wanted just friendship from Izzy, and she’s starting to think that might not be what she wants either.

I adored both Izzy and Ethan. Ethan in particular is a sweet, bearded cinnamon bun of a man who has straight up loved Izzy forever. I didn’t exactly enjoy that he had essentially cut off contact with her for stupid reasons, but I could understand how it happened. He was young and dumb, and most of us have probably had that experience of drifting away from a childhood friend. I do wish they had talked a bit more about it, because I felt like his explanation to her was a little thin. Izzy is a great character too. The book is told in alternating first person, and it’s in Ethan’s chapters that I came to love Isabella. He just adores her and sees her for what she is. It’s lovely!

The big conflict in the book is that Izzy is heading back to NYC, while Ethan has firm roots in Kentucky. (Literal roots! He’s a farmer with a thriving business which I LOVED SO MUCH.) I appreciated that they BOTH have to figure out what their priorities are, and Izzy’s soul searching isn’t all about Ethan. She has to put aside all the expectations of the people in her life (her parents, her friends, her neighbors, etc) to figure out what she truly wants her life to be. Her friends are amazing as well. I loved getting to know them and desperately hope this is the start of a series. I want to read about every last one of them.

This book is cute but with enough of a serious backbone to stop it from being cutesy. I had a great time reading it.

Grade: 4 out of 5.

four-stars


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Guest Review: Nothing to Fear by Juno Rushdan

Posted August 28, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Nothing to Fear by Juno RushdanReviewer: Jen
Nothing to Fear by Juno Rushdan
Series: Final Hour #2
Also in this series: Every Last Breath
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 448
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The clock is ticking

Fearsome Gray Box operative Gideon Stone is devoted to his work and his team. He's never given reason to doubt his loyalty...until he's tasked with investigating Willow Harper, a beguiling cryptologist suspected of selling deadly bio-agents on the black market.

He knows she's innocent. He knows she's being framed. And he knows that without him, Willow will be dead before sunrise.

Thrust into the crossfire of an insidious international conspiracy, Gideon will do anything to keep Willow safe...even if that means waging war against his own. With time running out, an unlikely bond pushes limits―and forges loyalties. Every move they make counts. And the real traitor is always watching...

Hands down my favorite new series and author this year has been the Final Hour series by Juno Rushdan. I enjoyed Book 1 a lot, and that trend continued with Book 2 (with one caveat I’ll explain later).

Gideon Stone works with Maddox from Book 1 at the Gray Box, an off-the-books agency of the US Government. In Book 1 we learned that there is a traitor in the organization, and in Book 2 that traitor is ramping up their efforts. The pressure is on to find the traitor as soon as possible, so the inner circle starts investigating suspects. One potential suspect is Willow Harper, the team’s cryptologist. Gideon volunteers to investigate her, mostly because he’s always admired her from afar. He immediately realizes she couldn’t be the traitor, but when it’s clear she’s being set up to take the fall Gideon goes rogue to save her. He has to keep Willow alive and find the real traitor to clear her name.

This book is just as action packed as the first one, and I had a great time reading it. Unlike Maddox, the heroine from Book 1, Willow is not a shoot-em-up operative. Instead, she is a genius with technology. She does need Gideon for physical defense and some strategy–he’s the one who knows how this world works and has the skills to keep them alive. She isn’t weak or stupid, however. She contributes to the chase using her own skills, and she keeps up with Gideon.

The relationship between Gideon and Willow is lovely too. Both truly see and appreciate the other for their own strengths. Gideon sees Willow’s talent and spine of steel and values it, even though she isn’t able to kick ass in the same way he does. One of the problems Gideon had in past relationships was that he couldn’t be honest about his job or what it entails. Because Willow already knows the details, though, he is able to be free with her in a way he has never been before. Even better, Willow isn’t scared away by what he does, though it takes Gideon too long to realize that. He spends way too much time assuming he’s not good enough for her, and he does a lot of flip flopping as he gives in to his need to be with her but then pushes her away. He hurt her every time he did that, even though he thinks he’s helping her. I wanted more consistency from him and for him to acknowledge that Willow knows who he is but loves him anyway.

Now on to a spoiler that I feel is important to mention: Willow is autistic, a fact that is explicitly stated near the beginning of the book. While there is some discussion of her autism, particularly early in the book, it is not a defining characteristic of Willow’s, nor is it a major plot point. There are a few instances where it impacts the story, but for the most part Willow is able to keep up with the action as well as any other civilian suddenly dropped into an action movie would. There’s no fetishizing I could see, either. There is one deeply uncomfortable scene with an ignorant police officer near the beginning of the book. To me it read as a condemnation of the kind of idiotic views people hold about autism, but I don’t know how it would read as someone more familiar with ASD. In general, I am unqualified to pass judgment on how this book handles Willow’s autism, so I can’t say whether this portrayal is appropriate or not. If anyone with more experience in this area reads the book and has a different take, please do comment here!

Aside from the above concerns, I really liked this book. It’s got so much of my catnip–traitor in our midst, a couple on the run, secret government agency, and smart characters who bring out the best in each other. I am hooked on this series!

Grade: 4 out of 5

Final Hour

four-stars


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Guest Review: In Her Sights by Katie Ruggle

Posted August 9, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: In Her Sights by Katie RuggleReviewer: Jen
In Her Sights by Katie Ruggle
Series: Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Five bounty-hunting sistersDeep in the heart of the RockiesFighting to save each other...and the men who steal their hearts

Bounty hunter Molly Pax fought hard for everything she has, turning the bail recovery business she shares with her sisters into an unqualified success. So when their sticky-fingered mother jumps bail and puts the childhood home up as collateral, Molly's horrified. To make matters worse, every two-bit criminal in the Rockies now sees her family's misfortune as their next big break.

She needs help, stat.

Enter rival bounty hunter John Carmondy: six feet of pure trouble, with a cocky grin to match. John's the most cheerfully, annoyingly gorgeous frenemy Molly's ever had the pleasure of defeating...and he may be her only hope of making it out of this mess alive.

Like Stephanie Plum but want her to actually get with, and stick with, a guy? In Her Sights might appeal!

Molly Pax owns a bounty hunter business with her sisters. They have built a life in spite of their truly deadbeat mom who has done nothing but drag them down their entire lives. When their mom gets them into the kind of trouble that could easily ruin everything they’ve worked for, Molly has to turn to rival bounty hunter John Carmondy for help. She and John have to work together, even though they hate each other…don’t they?

I thought this book was a lot of fun. Ruggle does a great job with characters and dialogue that are funny but not ridiculous. The banter between Molly and John is excellent, but my favorite part is probably the relationships between the sisters. Molly is totally devoted to her family, and in fact she’s more of the mother than their actual mother. She will do anything to save her family, and you get the sense that her sisters feel the same. I always love reading about strong families, and this was definitely a good one. 

I really enjoyed the progression of John and Molly’s relationship too. John is a giant teddy bear, contrary to what Molly thinks of him at first. The story is written in third person but is limited to Molly’s perspective, so like Molly we don’t totally know what John is thinking. Unlike Molly, however, as the reader we can immediately see John has a crush on her and she’s the one misinterpreting his actions. On the one hand I wanted him to just tell her upfront how he was feeling, but on the other hand I could understand why you wouldn’t be rushing to confess your attraction to someone who treated you like the enemy. It’s clear Molly is feeling an attraction, too, and once she finally recognizes it they make an adorable couple. 

I always love a good bounty hunter story, and this one fits that trope perfectly. It’s fun to see Molly and her sisters doing their jobs. They’re all smart and tough and capable, and I had a great time getting to know them.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters

four-stars


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Guest Review: American Witch by Thea Harrison

Posted August 6, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: American Witch by Thea HarrisonReviewer: Jen
American Witch by Thea Harrison
Series: American Witch #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 29, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 420
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Power can change a person…

For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.

Revenge can shape a person…

Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.

Danger can bring them together…

When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.

As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.

As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?

When Molly Sullivan finds out that her husband has cheated on her…again…she erupts with long overdue fury, and in the process discovers she’s actually a witch. Josiah Mason is there to witness her newfound powers, and he knows they can bring unwanted scrutiny to the area from his enemy, who he’s been plotting against for years. Josiah offers to train Molly and help her control her powers. Molly has to become the person and the witch she was always meant to be, and Josiah has to decide what price he’s willing to pay for revenge.

First and foremost, the world building in this book is excellent. It is technically set in the world of the Elder Races, but there’s not a lot of crossover and you don’t need to have read any of the other books to enjoy this one. We didn’t hear much about witches in the previous books, but in this series Harrison really digs into their story more. I especially loved the town where Molly eventually settles, and I can’t wait to learn more about it in future books.

Molly is an older heroine, and I really enjoyed that! She hasn’t lived her life on her terms, but once she realizes she doesn’t have to put up with everyone else’s shit she finally starts coming into her own. (She is married at the start of the book, but don’t worry there’s no cheating, from her at least.) I love that she doesn’t let Josiah walk all over her. They have a very contentious relationship at first, and while they are attracted neither is willing to bend on their own goals–Josiah wants revenge and Molly just wants to live life as she wants it. Even once they start having both pants feelings and romantic feelings for each other, Molly doesn’t pine for Josiah, doesn’t roll over and give him his way. She demands that he love her as she is, and she will no longer suppress who she is for anyone. A lot of this book is really about Molly learning to live her best life, and that’s very satisfying to see. I also loved that Molly demands Josiah be the best version of himself, too, and if he can’t do that she’s fully prepared to let him go.

If I have one criticism, it’s that because of the detailed world-building and the time spent on Molly’s growth, there isn’t as much time spent on the romance. It’s hard to see their turn from enemies to HEA. I believed it; I just wanted to see more of it. I also didn’t love the surprise twist in the middle. I won’t ruin it for everyone, but I thought it was unnecessary and would rather have seen Molly grow for Molly rather than this extra influence.

I really enjoyed this heroine and story, and I look forward to learning more about this part of the Elder Races world.

Grade: 4 out of 5

American Witch

four-stars


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Guest Review: Tightrope by Amanda Quick

Posted July 24, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Tightrope by Amanda QuickReviewer: Jen
Tightrope by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #3
Also in this series: The Other Lady Vanishes (Burning Cove #2)
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 309
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

An unconventional woman and a man shrouded in mystery walk a tightrope of desire as they race against a killer to find a machine that could change the world.

Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real.

In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld.

Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out.

This book brings us back to Burning Cove, California, a vacation getaway for the rich and famous in 1930s Hollywood. Amalie Vaughn is a former trapeze artist who left her career under tragic and inauspicious circumstances. She has moved to Burning Cove to start a new life and open a bed and breakfast. When her first guest is unfortunately murdered, she gets tangled up in something nefarious. Matthias Jones is investigating in Burning Cove as well. At first he sticks close to Amalie because he is searching for information, but quickly he starts sticking close to her for more personal reasons. 

I recognize that this series is nothing ground breaking, but for me it is lots of fun. I really enjoy the world Quick has painted, and I enjoy revisiting Burning Cove in each book. This one in particular felt like a good old fashioned mystery. The murdered guest is a self proclaimed inventor of robots, and that added a fun flavor to the intrigue. Similarly, Amalie’s background as a trapeze artist is glamorous and unique, and I loved that she’s able to use some of her past skills to save herself in the end. 

Matthias and Amalie make a nice couple, although Mathias isn’t particularly interesting to me as a character. No one knows quite what he does, though the rumor is that he’s mixed up with criminals. It was all a little silly. I did like that he appreciates Amalie and her abilities, and like the other heroes in the series he respects and values the heroine’s independence. There’s also a whiff of the supernatural in his backstory, though it’s never really identified as such as nothing much comes of it. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a slight callback to Quick’s Arcane Society series or not, but I didn’t really think it added anything to the story.

This series has become a kind of comforting world for me to visit. It never knocks my socks off, but it’s romantic, unique, and interesting, and I like the characters Quick has created.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Burning Cove

three-half-stars


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